Plan: Golf course to high-end homes


THE DEVELOPER — Paul Hollis stands next to the preliminary sketch plan for the proposed Brandy Pond Crossing subdivision. Hollis appeared before the Naples Planning Board but has not filed an application. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES – It appears that an iconic golf course that has been in Naples since the 1920’s may be developed into a subdivision of high-end homes with access to Brandy Pond.

That is the path that is being taken.

This is a prospect that has evoked an emotional reaction from the community: the closure of Naples Golf & Country Club after a shareholders’ meeting in December 2017, the impending liquidation of property on the front nine located between Route 114 and Brandy Pond, and the loss of a long-standing business and privately-owned open space. Residents have expressed their concerns through Facebook posts, letters to the editor in The Bridgton News and calls to local selectmen and the planning board chair.

On Tuesday, a developer presented a preliminary sketch plan to the Naples Planning Board. The initial proposal includes 2,000-square foot homes that are about 175 to 200 feet apart, a shared set of docks and beach access to Brandy Pond, and a paved 18-foot wide road with three-foot shoulders.

Paul C. Hollis, with Great Lots of Maine, is seeking to purchase and develop land on the front nine. The preliminary plan was produced by Sawyer Engineering & Surveying, Inc., of Bridgton.

The Naples Golf course property encompasses about 100 acres, which is broken down into 65 acres on the back nine and 43 acres on the front nine. Naples Golf & Country Club is keeping 9.2 acres, Hollis said. Hollis proposes to purchase 32.8 acres, including all of New Fairway Drive, with plans to straighten out the road that would lead to the new homes.

“Would people around here love to see the golf course there? Absolutely. I would hope that the back nine would continue as a golf course. For me to have a subdivision and to have a nine-hole golf course around the corner – that would be fantastic.” — Paul Hollis, developer with Great Lots of Maine

“Would people around there love to see the golf course there? Absolutely. I would hope that the back nine would continue as a golf course,” Hollis said.

“For me to have a subdivision and to have a nine-hole golf course around the corner — that would be fantastic,” he said.

It was pointed out that no amount of community outcry could alter plans for privately owned property unless part of the plan is in violation of a Town Ordinance.

At the beginning of the meeting, Planning Board Chairman Larry Anton addressed the audience, “I want to point out that there is no application from the applicant. This is not a situation [in which] we will be taking comments from audience.”

“If someone wants to develop a piece of property, it is their right. We cannot stop them. We don’t have the power to stop them,” Anton said. He said the role of the planning board is to make certain the Town Ordinances are adhered to; the Town’s Comprehensive Plan is taken into consideration; and the lake quality and environment is protected per Town Ordinance and state and federal law.

Public participation was prohibited during the preliminary sketch plan — except when a planning board member singled someone out for a comment.

However, as the meeting wrapped up, the chairman of the Naples Board of Selectmen Jim Grattelo, who was sitting in the audience, advocated for a forum for people to express their desires for the development of the golf course land. “There needs to be a procedure for the public to weigh in,” Grattelo said. He later suggested putting it on the selectmen’s agenda to “let the people speak.”

The Naples Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) said that there needs to be an application filed with the town first and then public comment is part of the process.

Anton said that a public hearing would take place once a formal application is submitted. Hollis said he was open to ideas from the public. He held a meeting for the abutters in mid-February and also talked to abutters while visiting the property in late December.

David Guiseley is an abutter who came to Monday’s planning board meeting. Guiseley purchased a lot near the front nine and has not yet build a home there.

“There isn’t much option. I would rather have a golf course. I came to the meeting to see what it would be. We knew about the plan. If the back nine stayed a golf course, that would be ideal,” Guiseley said. “Paul is saying all the right things. Let’s see if he is true to his word.”

The reasoning behind the closure of Naples Golf is that golf play revenues were on the decline — and that dip in golf revenue has been a national trend.

According to the Naples Golf website, in a letter from majority shareholders Dick Dyke and Allen Faraday, “Total golf play revenue dropped $41,000 from 2016 to 2017. In order to keep operating, the owners have to keep providing additional funds to make up the losses.”

“In order to protect the investment that the owners have put into the course, the course has been closed and will be liquidated,” according to the letter written in December.

To sum up the protocol going forward with the proposed subdivision: An application must be submitted with the Town of Naples.

Anton advised Hollis to engage a town consultant, which the developer would pay for. Cumberland County Soil & Water was recommended. Also, both the town and the developer will seek legal advice regarding the interpretation of a Shoreland Ordinance to allow 25 feet per boat instead of requiring 50 feet of beach rights-of-way per boat.

Anton said, “You have to have 50 feet.”

Hollis said a major amenities that would appeal to potential home buyers is a having place to docks their boat on Brandy Pond. “I would hope my 25 feet per boat would be okay,” he said.

Anton said when the parcel operated as a golf course, the beach use was not traditional. “The 50 foot density was put in ordinance to restrict use. Brandy Pond is in the most threatened status. The number of people, the number of houses. I’m not just talking about boats. I’m talking about swimming — that is an intensive use.”

Hollis said his plan of two docks that allow one boat per homeowner is preferable to nine separate docks with a maximum of two boats each. He assured the board there would be very strict covenants for homeowners that would protect the environment and the aesthetics of the subdivision.

Also, Hollis reminded the board of the thousands of dollars in property taxes that would be generated — if and when the subdivision plan is approved.

“I think we are going to need a legal opinion,” Anton said.

Please follow and like us: